The news might come out as a surprise to many, but just like humans, Labrador Retrievers, or dogs in general, can also have grey hair. Slowly with time, when your dog grows older, you will start noticing a few strands of grey/ white hair here and there. This sudden realization can come as a shock to many, but brace yourself; hair greying is natural in dogs too.
Labradors are among some of the few canines whose hair tends to grey early than others. The timings and reasons for the same are determined by Lab’s genetics, but at some stage of life, all of them have to pass the process. Some Labradors get grey hair due to stress, some due to any medical condition, whereas some get through the natural process of ageing. However, these reasons/ circumstances can’t hit a particular answer and therefore the discussion can reach leaps and bonds. When Labradors have grey hair is a discussion of argument since the time precisely depends upon the reasons for hair greying. Here, without taking confusion, let’s get into the scientific understanding and learnings in detail.
When Do Labradors Start Getting Grey Hair As Part Of Ageing?
As part of Ageing, Labradors start getting grey hair when they are around 5 to 7 years old. It is when they stop producing natural hair color, and the hair turns white. Greying of hair is more visible in Chocolate and Black Labradors due to their coat shade. However, regardless of their coat color, all Labradors experience greying of hair.
7 Reasons Your Dog’s Hair Is Turning White (Why Does My Lab Have Gray Hair?)
It is obvious that dogs get White hair at some point of time in their life. Hair greying is part of their natural growing process though it sometimes can even be health-related.
Greying and Premature greying can happen to dogs at any given age. Here are some prominent reasons responsible for hair greying in dogs.
Due to Aging:
Growing age is the most common and obvious reason for dogs to experience hair greying. The process is similar to that of humans. As dogs reach the age of 5 to 7 or 8 years, their hair starts changing color. No matter what kind or color their coat is, some hairs here and there will start appearing grey. Especially the hair around the nose is the first one to turn grey due to aging in dogs.
As dogs grow older, the pigment in their hair follicles gradually dies. The hair strands no longer contain as much melanin, and therefore it turns gray, silver, or white, more of transparent color. However, because other hair strands still produce melanin and pigmentation, not their entire coat changes color. Only dogs who live for more than 13 to 15 years can experience an entire grey or white coat due to aging.
However, not all dog’s age alike, and every individual of them thus will display signs at different stages of life. Besides greying hair, aging has other physical and mental effects on a dog’s health.
Due to Anxiety and Stress:
The second reason as well shouldn’t come as a surprise as humans, too, experience greying of hair due to Anxiety and Stress. And since Labradors or dogs generally can experience stress, the phenomena of greying is applicable to them as well.
According to a group of researchers at Northern Illinois University, dogs who display signs of stress and anxiety can experience premature hair greying. Studies about the same were published by American Kennel Club and Applied Animal Behavior Science both. Scientists who were part of this research now believe that this information will encourage and help Vets to treat stress amongst dogs at an early age. Also, according to the research, stress-induced hair greying effect female dogs more than male dogs.
Due to Genetical Reasons:
Premature hair greying can be a part of your dog’s genetics as well. Again this is a very similar occurrence to that of humans. If your dog is very young and has no stress or health problem, then greying of hair can be due to their genetics. Most likely, others in their ancestors have experienced similar conditions, and therefore it has been passed down as hereditary.
Due to Vitiligo:
Vitiligo is sometimes the reason why your dog’s hair turns grey or white. This rare skin condition can lead to pigment loss in certain patches of fur and skin. However, Vitiligo in dogs hits differently than all where; some dogs get patches others’ entire body show signs of the said condition. Some dogs may even experience painful symptoms due to Vitiligo.
Due to Hypothyroidism:
Hypothyroidism is a thyroid abnormality in dogs that can affect canines of age under 5 years. It is when dogs’ thyroid gland starts underperforming they start putting on weight and experience skin issues and particularly dullness and drying of hair.
Due to Liver & Kidney Disease:
When a dog’s liver or kidney starts producing toxins, it, as a result, can make its hair turn grey. A vet can precisely examine and report why that is exactly happening, though.
Due to Cushing’s Disease:
Cushing’s syndrome in dogs is a condition where canine adrenal glands start overproducing some specific hormones. One of those includes Cortisol which can also bring sudden changes in a dog’s coat. Little Cortisol is treatable, though extreme Cortisol can prove fatal for dogs.
3 Tips To Control Hair Greying in Dogs- All That You Can Do
Premature greying in dogs can be controlled to a huge extent. However, the greying of hair due to aging isn’t something one can do much about.
If your dog is suffering from premature hair greying, here is all that you can do:
- Ensure your dog isn’t under any kind of stress or anxiety. Give time and attention to the dog and if required, meet a behaviourist for professional help.
- Upon noticing the growth of white hair in your dog’s coat, make sure you rule out all medical possibilities. Monitor other symptoms as well and take your dog to an experienced Vet for getting a detailed checkup.
- If there isn’t any medical reason, then your dog might be experiencing premature hair greying due to genetics. In such cases, it is better to learn about the dog’s parent (either at the breeding house, friends, family, etc.) and rule out the possibility.
Why Pups Go Prematurely Gray?
Many puppies go prematurely gray genetical predisposition. Some of the common breeds who go through the same include Schnauzers, Poodles, Bearded collies, and certain Sheepdogs.
Dog breeds with a black coat or long coat too experience the same genetical impact, which results in premature greying.
Why Does My Black Lab Puppy Have Grey Hairs?
- If your Black Labrador puppy is turning to have grey hair or a slightly brown coat, it can possibly happen because of ‘bleaching due to sunlight. This phenomenon is common amongst Black Labradors and is even seen in Labrador mixes.
- Another prominent reason why your Labrador puppy has grey hair is probably that he is a mix-breed or cross-breeds. Color dilution is a result of cross-breeding since it isn’t very prominent in Labs.
- In addition, Labrador puppies who suffer from a rare genetic condition that prevents the metabolism of tyrosine can too experience grey hair.
- Besides that, hormonal changes or chronic disorders too can be found to be responsible.
Why Is My Labradoodle Turning Grey?
It is very uncommon for Labradoodles to turn grey. However, this may happen because Labradoodles have a dilute gene that they genetically inherit from Labrador or Poodle, either of their parent breeds. The dog has either received the greying gene or inherited two copies of the dilute gene.
If your Labrador appears to be greying prematurely, take him to a Vet soon. It is essential to diagnose and treat any underlying illness that might be triggering greying of hair in the dog. However, if greying is a result of aging, brace yourself and let the Labrador embrace his coat gracefully.